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Don't buytired rhetoric

Local editorials

Schools will be hurt, plain and simple, if the tax package is defeated

Oregonians still buying the tired line that we can overturn the Legislature's tax package and not hurt schools simply aren't paying attention.

Paid signature gatherers are on the streets now collecting signatures to force a vote on the revenue package, which would temporarily increase state personal income taxes and corporate income taxes to balance the budget for 2003-2005. The package would raise &

36;800 million, &

36;414 million of it earmarked for schools.

Supporters of the referendum effort claim it would have no effect on schools because districts did not count on the extra money when they drafted budgets. That may be true in some cases for the remainder of the 2003-04 school year, but not for next year.

Medford school officials estimate their district's budget could be short as much as &

36;10 million next year. Central Point could be forced to cut &

36;3 million.

Any frills once present in local schools are long gone. Last school year, when voters turned down a temporary tax increase, districts were forced to trim school days from the calendar. Staffing levels have dropped and class sizes have increased.

— This time, it will be worse. Because labor costs account for the vast majority of school spending, making big reductions means cutting staff or cutting days, or some combination of the two.

As Vicki Robinson, Central Point's business director, pointed out, staff can be cut only so far before student safety is threatened. That leaves school days.

In Medford, administrators are drawing up lists of every expenditure in the district, and nothing is out of bounds.

Dick Gregory, the district's new superintendent ' who could be forgiven for wondering why he wanted the job ' said, You cannot cut &

36;5 million to &

36;10 million in a school without impacting services, personnel, and the bottom line, kids.

We suggest Oregon voters look at the potential harm that awaits schools ' not to mention social services and other vital government operations ' and weigh that against the cost to themselves.

A married couple filing jointly with an income of &

36;40,000-&

36;50,000 a year would pay an extra &

36;36 annually. Do the math. That's &

36;3 a month. And it's temporary.

Feeling singled out? Corporations will pay more, too. The state's corporate minimum tax has been &

36;10 a year for decades. If the referendum succeeeds, it will stay there. If voters uphold the package, corporations will pay &

36;250 to &

36;5,000, depending on profits.

Think about that before you sign a petition to overturn the revenue package.

Safe, not sorry

Oregon is known for its guns. Its citizens own them for protection and for hunting. They store them in the backs of their pickup cabs or in their homes, some safely, some not.

Guns in the home can be particularly dangerous when children are present. That's why we applaud an effort to keep guns locked up where they will not be of danger to children or anyone else.

Thanks to a federal grant, the National Shooting Sports Foundation will distribute about 9,000 free gun locks in Jackson County through local police agencies and G.I. Joe's in Medford. The project will hold demonstrations and lock giveaways from noon to 6 p.m. today at G.I. Joe's, 2370 Poplar Drive, Medford.

Regardless of your position on the Second Amendment, the reality is that guns are common in our community, and making them as safe as possible is something everyone can support..